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College student at a crossroads

 
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My situation is, I have spent the last two years finishing my university's core classes (history, english, etc.)

I need to make a decision, should I seek a career in computers (I'm very much into Java), or something else all together. (as I can major in pretty much anything at this point)

I ask this because although I would like to work in the IT industry, judging from some of these posts, it looks like a really rough road. I mean, is it so bad that although I may be good in what I do, it may still not be enough?

How bad is bad? Is it bad enough that I should seriously consider majoring in something else? Or should I just keep at it and hope for the best?
 
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You're asking the wrong questions of the wrong people. Don't focus on what the job market will b lik when you graduate, focus on the job market over the nxt 40 years and contrast it with you lifetime goals. Maybe the job market will b great in a year or two, but will an IT job give you the money, job satisfaction, and lifestyle that you need at age 40? Those are the questions you need to start thinking about.

--Mark
 
James Velez
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That's a good point. But that begs the question: how will the IT job market be over the coming decades? I know that it is very difficult to say. However, if anyone has any insight about the long term future of the IT job market, it would be greatly appreciated.

I like programmming and if it would provide a good lifestyle, it would be even better. I just wanna know exactly what I'm getting into, and what to expect. I know you guys aren't economists or anything, but as I stated already, any insights would be helpful.
 
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At present it is very hard for a new US college graduate to get an entry level Java programming job in the US at an ordinary American salary. You should check this with your university career placement office. Certainly the public job postings on the internet and newspaper want ads tend to confirm this, but there is some targeted on-campus recruiting.

In the long run, I believe that the US Java programmer will go the way of the US textile worker. There will always be some, but the salary differential is so great that there will always be fewer good jobs than good applicants.

One alternate approach is to go into an active field where you can use Java expertise with your other skills. Pharmaceuticals and Biotechnology, financial markets, national security, retailing and distribution, all these offer interesting careers where a computer-savy professional will have an ongoing advantage.

Related to this is the role of business analyst, which cannot be offshored because of the requirement for very high levels of cultural and language fluency, not to mention physical proximity to the business.

Many schools have separate degree programs in Information Systems, as opposed to Computer Science, which are essentially business degrees with extra courses in IT. These usually include extensive internship programs to allow you to build the resume and contacts you will need when you graduate.

To return to my textile worker analogy, most clothes are made overseas but there are thousands of great US jobs in the garment industry.
 
Mark Herschberg
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I think there will be plenty of Java developer jobs in the future--but this may be splitting hairs over titles.

First, outsourcing is overblown, it's still less than 5% of a relatively high number of software projects. For reasons I discuss in other threads, it will not have a big impact on US development for 10-15 years, at least.

Second, development always gets "easier." Each decade the tools get more advanced, moving the role of those writing "code" further from the hardware/OS and closer to the business. To be a successful developer in the future, you need business skills. You may call this a business analyst, but the fact is, someone who can understand the business/interact with the customer still needs to write code. Focus on understanding more than just technology and you'll be fine.

--Mark
 
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I graduated from UCF in Dec 2003 with a degree in MIS.. I was fortunate enough to have built up my resume during school, and landed a pretty good java gig in DC..

It's been a lot of work to get "caught up" on some of the things I missed out on by going the more traditional computer science route. At the end of the day though, I think I'll be more well rounded and further prepared for the future.

I grew up programming and tinkering with computers. When I was at similar crossroads, it didn't make sense at the time to keep studying the things that I thought I already knew or could learn on my own.. I went the business route and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in a field that I probably would have never formally studied.

Economics, finance and accounting gave me an incrediable foundation to build upon. The presentation classes that were required (damn near every class it seemed) gave me a public speaking ability and confidence with costumers that many engineers lack.

Anyway.. just my recent experiences.. hope it helps..
 
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"Second, development always gets "easier." Each decade the tools get more advanced, moving the role of those writing "code" further from the hardware/OS and closer to the business."

I think what you are refering to is MDA, which is still in its infancy.
By the way SE tools are always advancing due to the fact that software engineering in general is becoming more amd more complex.

COMPLEXITY.

Tools will never be enough for the job. In my opinion it is never good to rely on a vendor specific tool, all organsiations have different requirements anyway, so even if you master one, it may not be used where you are going!
 
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Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

First, outsourcing is overblown, it's still less than 5% of a relatively high number of software projects. For reasons I discuss in other threads, it will not have a big impact on US development for 10-15 years, at least.

Second, development always gets "easier." Each decade the tools get more advanced, moving the role of those writing "code" further from the hardware/OS and closer to the business. To be a successful developer in the future, you need business skills. You may call this a business analyst, but the fact is, someone who can understand the business/interact with the customer still needs to write code. Focus on understanding more than just technology and you'll be fine.

--Mark



I'm afraid I have to disagree. I spent an extremely painful 2 years trying to get re-employed after my last layoff. One of the things I attempted to do was bid on projects. I routinely found myself bidding against offshore groups who'd quote something like $25/hr for a whole team of programmers.

I did some work for a contractor located in Connecticut. He was running into the same thing.

I visited a trade show. A fairly small - though locally well-known - Internet services company was there. The Indian guy told me he sent their development work back home.

A Fortune 500 Insurance company with a large presence in this state is absolutely loaded with H1-Bs and L1s. They pay L1s $1000/month to cover the differential in living expenses between India and the U.S. That's for food, clothing, housing and transportation.

Sun sent Java to Bangalore in 2001.

It's become a bitter joke even outside the IT industry that Bank of America ought to just rename itself Bank of India. I've a friend in the local offices involved in offshoring there. And, if what I'm told is true, Wells Fargo no longer employs software development people in the U.S. at all.

I just refinanced my house using my dot-com stock profits (taxed at 5% thanks to being unemployed) in order to get the payments down to a level where I wouldn't end up on the street in the event that Tata Consulting finally wears down the CIO where I work now and I end up on another extended unpaid vacation. The loan officer told me that even title searches are frequently offshored now.

So pardon my skepticism.

As for the "easier" development thing, that's been discussed here many times. Somehow everytime one software task gets easier, there pops up a demand for something else that's not. which is fine with me, since the hard tasks are what I live for. But it's pretty well kept the "silver bullet" idea that someday you really CAN get monkeys turning cranks as your software source from becoming reality.
 
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In my personal opinion, 100% this is the way to go. Kudos!!!
Wish I had done something similar
But never too late...will try atleast now

Originally posted by Alexander Rudloff:
I went the business route and gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in a field that I probably would have never formally studied.

Economics, finance and accounting gave me an incrediable foundation to build upon.

 
Mike Gershman
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Well James, you have heard from both sides now.

Remember that this board is not an academic exercise for the participants. Some posters have a vital personal interest in the continuation of the H1B/L1 programs. Others have the scars from the ugly reality of American jobs being shipped overseas or staffed by underpaid "temporary" workers filling a non-existent gap in available American programmers.

Do your own investigation. Search the want ads and job postings, both monster.com and corporate, for entry-level Java and J2EE jobs in the USA. Check with your college placement office. Call some employment agencies - their numbers are listed in some want ads - and ask what your chances will be with a 4 year degree in Java programming and no industry experience.

Before you invest the next two years of your life, be very sure there is a reasonable pay-off at the end.
[ January 12, 2005: Message edited by: Mike Gershman ]
 
soniya saxena
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Some posters have a vital personal interest in the continuation of the H1B/L1 programs.
What has any post in this thread got to do with somebody's vital interest in continuing H1B/L1.

staffed by underpaid "temporary" workers
There u go again
When the economy was at its rock bottom, my personal experience was that I couldnt get low paying contracts bcuz it is not possible for the employer to pay me below a certain amount on H1B. The only people who could get these contracts were GCs and US citizens. When I used to go to job fairs, nobody wanted H1Bs. Only GCs & US citizens used to get those jobs whatever be the pay.

So I guess, ur theory is - a US citizen would rather stay unemployed than accept a low paying job, then have an H1B grab the job and then whine that H1Bs are taking away all the jobs.

My theory is - there are low paying jobs, there are high paying jobs; and u will find a mix of H1Bs, GCs & US citizens on all these jobs. H1Bs do not own the low paying sector.
[ January 12, 2005: Message edited by: soniya saxena ]
 
James Velez
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Thanks for everyone's input. Its good to hear everyone's opinions on the matter. Hopefully it'll help more people in my situation.

Its a complex decision to make and I'll definitely be talking to more people (counselors and such), though I am leaning towards the information systems side (while continuing programming study on my own). Until then, any additional input is always welcome.
 
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James, IMO experience is not rewarded in technology. When you get to be 40+ it gets harder and harder to find a job in technology. At this point in your life you have experience that the rest of the marketplace does not recognize as valuable.

Technology and perhaps even being a professional are avenues you might consider avoiding. Try to start your own business. It need not be romantic, just something that serves the ordinary needs of your fellow human beings.
 
soniya saxena
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This is a very valid point.

Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
James, IMO experience is not rewarded in technology. When you get to be 40+ it gets harder and harder to find a job in technology. At this point in your life you have experience that the rest of the marketplace does not recognize as valuable.

Technology and perhaps even being a professional are avenues you might consider avoiding. Try to start your own business. It need not be romantic, just something that serves the ordinary needs of your fellow human beings.

 
Homer Phillips
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While I'm at it I'll address one guy around here that holds a contrarian opinion ... Today's NYT addresses the value of a college education, Mark.

But there is no rule of law that says demand for educated labor will always rise faster than the supply. It could go the other way.

Richard B. Freeman, Harvard
[ January 13, 2005: Message edited by: Homer Phillips ]
 
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